Using peer networks to learn from its work, surface new ideas, listen to residents and collaborate with other foundations has become part of the Casey Foundation’s way of work. This report traces the evolution of peer networks – such as those developed for the Making Connections initiative and the Foundation’s Children and Family Fellows Alumni – and how they became a part of Casey’s learning culture. Based on interviews with dozens of Casey staff, residents, consultants and other thought leaders, it describes good practices for and challenges to sustaining, expanding and improving peer networking efforts.
Peer networking has helped Casey change how it works by increasing input from stakeholders in shaping its community and systems change initiatives.
Peer networking fosters patterns of human interaction that can help transform organizational culture and build leadership skills.
Making All Welcome
Participation in peer networks is especially crucial to the disenfranchised populations who are key stakeholders in the Foundation’s work.
“Trying to make the informal formal” can slow development of peer networks, but it’s clear some level of structure and intentional process is needed
Statements & Quotations
Like many in philanthropy, we work at the edges of what we know in order to test the hypotheses that embody our hopes. We often are challenged to figure out how to braid the knowledge garnered from disciplined research with the knowledge distilled from practice, and that earned through lived experience. That braiding happens best and matters most when achieved in the crucible of practice as an intentional product of people determined to learn what they need to know.
– Ralph Smith, senior vice president, the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Peer networking stimulates the transformative power of ideas, promoting conversation that helps reveal possibilities for change, and confirms the necessity of doing so.
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